Sex + Dating

Online Dating Research Shows People Care Less About Education Level as They Age

The older we get, the less we seem to care about the education levels of the people we date.

Just this morning I was thinking about my career in journalism and what brought me here. Sure, I studied journalism in college. But what I've found over the last three years in the workforce is that it's really the on-the-job experience that has made me good at my job -- not the time I spent toiling away in a classroom. And as it turns out, I'm not alone in my feelings on the worthiness of a college degree.

Young people with high-level degrees are more likely to reach out online to individuals with the same level of education. But new research from Australia's Queensland University of Technology shows these margins drastically change as people age.

In the study, "Things Change With Age: Educational Assortment in Online Dating," researchers analyzed data from online dating sites and determined that the older the person, the less likely he or she is to dismiss someone based on a lack of degree. Suddenly, that GED isn't looking too shabby.

"The internet has completely changed how people choose dating partners to find love," says Stephen Whyte, who co-authored the study with Professor Benno Torgler. "Cyber dating permits multiple partner choices in real time, which allows for a significantly greater available choice of potential mates. This increased pool means greater opportunity for selection of partners with lower, similar or even higher levels of certain characteristics."

Whyte's and Torgler's findings will be released in the April issue of the international journal Personality and Individual Differences.

So, it's less about settling and more about the complexity of the internet. Could it be that as we age we realize what we learned in school may not have been as important as we thought? Do we forget what we learned in college and place more value on life experience?

These are all questions to consider in the age of the internet, when choosing a partner is based on a wide variety of factors and hand-picked personality traits before we even go on a first date.

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Gigi Engle is Thrillist's Sex and Dating staff writer. For Gigi, education is pretty important. But she's also only 26, so who knows? Follow her lovable crazy on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram @GigiEngle.